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GE’s NextFuel Locomotive Demonstrator

September 6, 2014

(Images taken Sept. 4, 2014)

During a short railfan outing this past Thursday, I had a chance encounter at West Junction with GECX 3000, GE’s demonstrator for its new natural gas retrofit kits. It was the trailing unit, DIC, on UP 4767 East, the MEPEWX-02.

GECX 3000 ES44AC NextFuel test unit

This unit is one of 2 test beds for GE’s NextFuel concept. This unit will test with BNSF ES44AC 5815 with an LNG fuel tender . BNSF has 2 cars for this testing, 933500 and 933501.

BNSF 933500

According to GE:

GE Transportation’s new NextFuelTM Natural Gas Retrofit Kits enable existing Evolution Series locomotives to operate with dual fuel capabilities. This gives railroads flexibility to run on both diesel fuel and liquid natural gas (LNG) with up to 80 percent gas substitution as well as run 100 percent diesel. GE’s NextFuel kits allow railroads to use natural gas as a fuel source, reducing emissions and potentially reducing fuel costs by 50 percent while not compromising performance.

GE has been testing this low-pressure natural gas technology since spring of 2013, and is working closely with its Class 1 partners for further field testing. The use of liquid natural gas (LNG), which is cryogenically stored in a tender in the consist, provides enough fuel for a fully-loaded train to travel longer distances without refueling stops. An Evolution Series locomotive equipped with the NextFuel Natural Gas Retrofit Kit meets US EPA Tier 3 emission standards. A pilot program with the BNSF to test the use of natural gas as a fuel source for locomotives will proceed in 2014.

I was able to catch of few shots of some of the details on the unit. As usual, click any small image to see a larger image.

The top arrow shows the connections to the LNG tender. The bottom arrows point to some of the external wiring that was used to convey locomotive performance telemetry to the test equipment car.

detail on GECX 3000 NextFuel test unit

I’m still surprised at just how short contemporary trucks are, especially compared to SD40-2 trucks.

Truck detail of GECX 3000, NextFuel test ES44AC

When I first saw the artwork, it appeared to be some sort of headdress, which made no sense to me. Upon further review, the artwork does make sense.


Had I known it was coming, I would have set up a bit further back.


To the extent you’re interested in the technological aspect of the unit, click here to view a GE technical document (PDF) Update:the PDF has been pulled and the link doesn’t work anymore. I knew I should have saved the entire PDF!


Lastly, GE has a short video that outlines the technology and potential benefits to the industry.

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